A quarterly business luncheon took a patriotic turn Thursday as the SCV Chamber of Commerce presented its first-ever Sgt. Ian Gelig Memorial Scholarship to a once and future sailor.
A standing ovation greeted COC student Nicholas Flores as Stevenson Ranch residents Delia and Temistocles “Tim” Gelig welcomed him to the stage at the Hyatt Valencia.
The scholarship was established in honor of their son, Ian, an Army paratrooper who was killed by a suicide bomber in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, last November.
The award was “designed to help veterans accomplish their dreams after their service,” Tim Gelig said.
Local businessman Fred Arnold led the committee that created the scholarship.
Arnold said Flores joined the Navy at age 20 and served two years as a medic at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton before he as assigned as a platoon medic. He had been deployed in Iraq for a year when he learned his wife was pregnant with their first child.
Flores completed his service in order to spend quality time with his growing family but didn’t lose sight of his career ambitions.
He entered COC while his daughter was an infant, and maintained a 4.0 grade point average during his first year of studies. He intends to transfer to UCLA in the fall of 2012 and pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science with emphasis in international relations, while minoring in Arabic and Islamic studies.
That should put him in a good position to take the next steps on his military ladder: officer school and a shot at the elite SEAL team.
Delia Gelig expressed thanks to the community for its support in the days and weeks after her son’s death – something she initially intended to keep a private affair. Thousand of well-wishers lined the street as his funeral procession snaked through Stevenson Ranch.
“(I was) overwhelmed by the love and support Santa Clarita has given my son,” she said.